Street Furniture Australia chats to Blake Farmar-Bowers, landscape architect and Associate at ASPECT Studios in Melbourne.
Tell us about yourself. What led you to pursue landscape architecture?
In searching through the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre guide as a high school student, RMIT’s Landscape Architecture course was the only course that clearly stood out. Fortunately for me, intake was via interview so I strove to learn as much as I could about landscape architecture. As a year 12 student I attended ‘The Culture of Landscape Architecture: Edge Too’ Student Conference held in Melbourne in 1992, which became the start of my landscape architectural education. I realised here that landscape architecture was a young, energetic and exciting profession to become a part of.
In hindsight, this career path isn’t such a surprise, as it’s almost a hybrid of my parents’ professions; Dad, being an environmental scientist, who encouraged an appreciation of environmental systems and Mum, a textile designer, who exposed me to design and ‘fabrication’.
What are you excited to be working on at the moment?
I am working on two play spaces at the moment, which whilst being fun is always a challenge. It is interesting to try and make sure that these spaces are lively and engaging to children ranging in age and ability, whilst complying with Australian Standards and the project budget. I enjoy anticipating how children respond to play spaces and am consistently thrilled at how space is appropriated in unexpected ways.
What, or who, inspires you in your work?
I’m inspired by a design challenge. I love searching for the sometimes elusive ‘BIG’ idea, or design concept that fits both the brief and site. Local history is a consistent source of inspiration; otherwise, I draw stimulus from a range of sources based on each concept. One playground is inspired by The Cranbourne Meteorites, which, while being a literal translation, has resulted in a ‘landing’ of play equipment complete with impact craters. For another playground, it’s children’s drawings that provide motivation; I’m fascinated by the uninhibited and playful ways kids express themselves.
What’s one of the most unusual projects you’ve been involved in at ASPECT Studios?
The most unusual project I have worked on was designing a mobility scooter enclosure at a retirement home. This is one of the more obscure projects, being a precise intervention within the aforementioned site; however, the spread of work within the office is very diverse and the next day you may be thinking at an urban design scale.
What are your strengths as a landscape architect?
The ideation phase of design is one of my strengths as I feel I am able to visualise the big picture easily and generate multiple ideas quickly.
Once we have a specific direction, I become very focused on how to translate those ideas to space and form, down to the finest detailing of my projects.
Working with other people is a part of the job that I really enjoy, and I am fortunate to practise with a talented team where our strengths really complement each other. I understand that good design is a collaborative effort and requires input and expertise from a range of people, organisations and industries, which results in successful and unexpected outcomes.
Full article originally published on Street Furniture Australia's In Profile.